A few years ago, I was doing a summer internship in which I looked at health outcomes for hospitalized patients. I sat in an office and read about patients with issues like high blood pressure and cholesterol. At a certain point, I realized that the reports on their outcomes were interesting, but the real solution to the problems I was studying was happening outside my window. My window overlooked a ...

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Did you know that your digestive tract contains over 400 different types of bacteria? This complex ecosystem is called intestinal microflora. The concentration of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract increases dramatically moving from the stomach towards the colon. In humans, the intestinal microflora is vital in many important functions including digestion of nutrients and prevention of infection. Disruption of the “normal flora” can lead to many problems including diarrhea, bloating, ...

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With all the news about enterovirus 68 sending hundreds of children to hospitals, it's easy to panic when you hear about a case in your neighborhood -- or, even worse, if your child starts coughing. But please, don't panic. This virus has certainly caused trouble and tragedy. But enteroviruses are incredibly common, causing 10-15 million illnesses a year -- and usually, those illnesses are minor. This one, for reasons we ...

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Polypharmacy, or use of multiple psychiatric drugs, for treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is on the rise. A recent study compared treatment with basic therapy (stimulants plus parent training) with augmented therapy (those two plus risperidone, an atypical antipsychotic). The study concluded that treatment with risperidone was superior. When children show dramatic improvements in behavior on risperidone, now being prescribed with increasing frequency for ADHD and a range ...

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This weekend the kids and I had our influenza immunizations. There is always a difficult lead up as Oliver has severe anxiety around every medical procedure. An EKG (painless heart rhythm test) and a throat swab cause extreme fear and often tears and anything with a needle, well, let’s just say that’s on a whole different level of terror and emotional pain. I remind myself that his anxiety is a normal response ...

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As practicing pediatric gastroenterologists, my colleagues and I remove a fair number of esophageal and intestinal foreign bodies (i.e., things kids accidentally swallow). A couple of years ago, several physicians across the country began noticing serious injuries in children who swallowed high-powered magnets. The issue was raised in an email forum for pediatric gastroenterologists and the response was overwhelming. There were hundreds of cases -- throughout the world, as we later ...

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The Journal Psychological Science just published a complicated, long, and fascinating study about happiness. The full text is tucked behind a paywall, but it’s great reading if you can get your hands on it. The authors arranged four separate experiments, looking at the effects of getting things versus experiencing things, and how the anticipation of waiting might affect happiness. Some of the studies involved just imagining a future purchase or vacation; ...

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Media deprivation: Do you think it exists? Although laughable at first glance I know I’m not the only parent who wonders if limiting screen time could change my child’s opportunity. Those of us who fiercely control screen/device time may have momentary lapses where we wonder if we’re doing things right. Even though I’m convinced there isn’t a study telling us that typically-developing children need media/apps/screen time to learn how to ...

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Top stories in health and medicine, October 9, 2014From MedPage Today:

  1. Obese Kids Face Greater Risk for Heart Disease. The adverse long-term influence of obesity and elevated blood pressure on left ventricular remodeling begins in childhood, according to findings from the world's longest running biracial heart study.
  2. IBM's Watson Comes to the Bedside. If a physician or a patient could ...

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I direct a nutrition clinic in a large center for children with special needs. My kids can have everything from mild learning disabilities to genetic disorders that affect growth and development to profound intellectual and physical impairments that cause them to be unable to walk, speak or even scratch their heads. My most seriously involved kids are completely dependent for all their care. Children who are somewhere in between -- for example, children who ...

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